Broomfield’s Error-Riddled Election to Ban Fracking Faces Tough Court Challenge

February 21, 2014
Opponents of the fracking ban say the election was the worst run in Colorado’s history.

Opponents of the fracking ban say the election was the worst run in Colorado’s history.

BROOMFIELD – A lawsuit challenging the integrity of the troubled Broomfield election that narrowly passed a five-year ban on fracking will be heard Monday by District Court Judge Chris Melonakis.

Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition (BBEC) and Tom Cave of It’s Our Broomfield Too filed the lawsuit citing numerous election errors – including the discovery of about 80 ballots and materials last month stashed in Broomfield Election Manager Michael Susek’s office.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to annul the recount election abstract of votes cast and invalidate the election results on Question 300, which passed by 17 votes triggering a recount. The fracking ban passed by 20 votes after the recount – a margin still narrower than the number of uncounted ballots cast by eligible voters.

“A combination of the following three factors conspired to make the Broomfield election the poster child as the worst run election in Colorado history,” said BBEC spokeswoman B.J. Nikkel in a statement to The Colorado Observer.

The factors include “a bad election bill,” House Bill 1313 signed into law last year that is difficult for municipalities to understand; the “extremely deceptive ballot measure,” Question 300; and “incompetent election officials in Broomfield who refused to incorporate transparency and who admitted a myriad of mistakes” including the mystery ballot box that was discovered four months after the November election.

Broomfield City and County Attorney Bill Tuthill admitted mistakes were made, but he insisted the election results were certified and could not be changed.

“The canvass board completed its work and certified the results of the recount on Dec. 5,” said Tuthill in a statement.

The recount certification was signed by two of the three Broomfield Election Canvass Board members – Broomfield County and City Clerk Jim Candelarie and Joan Stern-Murahata, a leader in the Our Broomfield campaign to pass the fracking ban. Canvass Board member Marty Robinson refused to sign the recount certification.

All three Canvass Board members had signed the original election count certification, but they were only provided a statement attesting to accuracy and not with the required supporting documentation.

“You can’t do that and have any confidence in the election,” said Cave, adding that “there is no city attorney, nobody protecting the public.”

If the court upholds the election, Cave said, Question 300 would lead to expensive litigation because it violates constitutionally protected private property rights.

“That could bankrupt the city of Broomfield,” Cave said.

If Cave and BBEC win their lawsuit, it is unknown whether annulling the election recount would result in a new election. State statutes don’t clearly empower the judge to make that decision.

Broomfield lost a lawsuit last month in which it tried to block access to election records and materials that was requested by Marilyn Marks of the non-profit group Citizen Center to ensure election integrity. Marks had filed the request under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).

Tuthill argued that releasing that information would “do substantial injury to the public interest.”

In that Jan. 21 ruling, District Court Judge Francis Wasserman disagreed and ordered Broomfield election officials to comply with the requirements of the open records law. Marks said Candelarie electronically transmitted the records and materials within a week.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

7 Responses to Broomfield’s Error-Riddled Election to Ban Fracking Faces Tough Court Challenge

  1. February 22, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I was born and raised in Broomfield, and will will die in Broomfield as well. The people do not want fracking, only the big businesses. The people say NO! Look at all the environmental disasters this has caused. We want clean drinking water. Please say no, this is a scam from London big business oil conglomerates.

    • February 23, 2014 at 8:58 am

      You are totally correct. I live in Western Colorado where drilling and tracking are commonplace. We have oceans of tracking fluid running down the street, maiming children and drowning small dogs. The earthquakes which have leveled at least two major towns in the last six months alone are most certainly due to tracking. Then there’s the open pits of tar which migrating deer fall into and drown. You turn on your faucet and pure methane pours out. The good news about that is no one buys gas from Excel anymore: we just burn the water for heat.
      These are the environmental disasters we see every day over here.

      Broomfield should do whatever it takes to keep tracking away. Like volunteer your properties for solar powerplants. Sure, because solar can’t keep up with the demand, Broomfield might have to give up little things, like electricity at night, but we must do everything we can to keep big business, or small business for that matter, from scamming us with cheap, dependable energy sources.

      • February 23, 2014 at 8:59 am

        Darn autocorrect, every time I typed f-racking it changed it to tracking.

  2. February 24, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins such as… LEAD, URANIUM, MERCURY, ETHYLENE-GLYCOL, RADIUM, METHANOL, HYDROCHLORIC ACID, FORMALDEHYDE. Please grow up Steve Henderson. This is a serious matter involving my community and my home, and is not a joking matter. Please troll on another website. Thanks.

    • February 24, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Liberty or Death, if you don’t want to have satirical comments in regards to your comments you should talk facts not fables. Have you even bothered to research it? I’ll show you hard facts if you’ll show me yours.

  3. February 24, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    “Scott”- I unfortunately do not have time to do your own due diligence. However, I am not here to change your opinion; I am speaking for my community. This is Big Business vs. The People of Broomfield. You are in an arrested state of development and need to go get another big tasty cup of flouride water while they keep trying to rape our resources for profit.
    Please Do Your Own Research On fracking Brothers and Sisters! Propaganda is now legal in the USA so keep your 3rd eye open, deception is everywhere!

    • February 27, 2014 at 8:16 am


      When backed in a corner, name call. There is nothing more I have to say you are making my point for me.


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